Hidden cause of illness reversed with simple nutrient

It's a good thing gone wrong.

Inflammation, you see, starts out with its "heart" in the right place, but can end badly with systemic inflammation

Much like the pain that makes you pull your hand away from the hot stove, or the fever that raises your body's temperature just enough to make it an unfriendly place for a bug to live, inflammation has an important and underappreciated job to do as well.

When you're injured or get an infection your body sends special immune system cells to take care of the problem. The cells surround and overwhelm the infection or get rid of any debris left behind by the injury. The inflammation you see is a sign that your body is doing its job.

But there's a more sinister side to inflammation.

This normally helpful process has a dark side called "systemic" inflammation. And instead of the redness, swelling, and pain that you expect to see, systemic inflammation changes the rules. It's internal, and what docs like me like to call "low grade," (yup, just like the lighter version of a fever that also can be easily missed) and chronic.

The problem with this kind of inflammation is that it's virtually invisible. But just because you can't see it doesn't mean it's not there or having an effect. In fact, experts are now starting to link this hidden inflammation with a number of major diseases. And the potentially deadly list includes heart disease, Alzheimer's, arthritis, cancer, and type-2 diabetes.

And if you're carrying around some extra weight the news gets even worse. Systemic inflammation goes hand in hand with excess body fat. So just being overweight may make you susceptible to it and could be raising your risks of a number of major diseases.

Reverse hidden systemic inflammation

But new research from Ohio State University has found that if you're both overweight and middle aged just having enough of one simple nutrient in your diet could help you cut your inflammation numbers without even trying. (Hint... your likely not getting enough of it.)

According to the study, published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, volunteers took supplements for four months. They got either 2.5 grams of active omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, 1.25 grams of the omega-3s, or two teaspoons of a mix of oils representing what a typical American's eats.

Now, if you'll recall, earlier I told you that systemic inflammation is almost invisible. Well the way we find it is to look for certain proteins in the blood that are telltale signs of its presence. And it's those proteins the researchers at Ohio State were looking for.

It turns out that those volunteers who got the omega-3s had one of those proteins drop by an average of more than 10 percent! And they also saw a modest, but measurable, decrease in a second one of the inflammation markers to boot.

But the volunteers who got the supplement of mixed oils didn't fair so well. In fact, they saw jumps in their inflammation marking proteins... a staggering 36 percent in the one and 12 percent in the other.

Omega-3s may beat disease

Lowering hidden inflammation is important for your health. And it may even slash your risk for heart disease, Alzheimer's, arthritis, cancer and diabetes. So adding more omega 3's to your diet seems like a no-brainer.

(Hm, or perhaps knowing what we know already about omega 3's and brain health--and its ability to ward off depression and Alzheimer's--maybe I should call it a yes-brainer instead?)

And the good news is that it's super easy to add more omega 3's to your diet. Sardines, salmon, halibut, chia seeds, flax seeds, and walnuts are all excellent... not to mention delicious... sources of omega-3.